Humanetics had developed 7-Keto, a metabolite of DHEA, over more than 20 years. It filed a successful NDI notification on the product back in 1997 and received a patent in 2007. While the company has had success with the brand and had built it (with the help of marketing specialist Scott Steil of NutraBridge) into one of the more well-known and widely-used supplement ingredients, the time had come for someone else to build upon that legacy.
“We are focusing more into the drug and medical foods space,” Humanetics COO John Dykstra told NutraIngredients-USA. “7-Keto as a dietary supplement didn’t really fit that picture. “Whenever you start to call something a legacy business, maybe it’s better to have it with someone who can focus on it. It’s a strong brand but we thought more could be done with it and at InterHealth they have the desire and the wherewithal,” he said.
“We had a great run for 13 years and brought the brand from a few accounts to more than 100. It was a fun product to work with,” Steil said.
7-Keto is positioned a weight management ingredient, but the molecule has other effects. Dykstra said Humanetics will retain rights to some intellectual proprerty around the molecule’s cognitive effects and will continue that work aiming toward a possible pharmaceutical application.
“We are going to continue to work on the molecule,” Dykstra said. “We are keeping rights to the narrow field of post traumatic stress disorder. The molecule has some effects on the production of cortisol in the brain.”
Humanetics has a clinical study underway at the Bay Pines Veteran’s Administration Hospital in Bay Pines, Florida with a target completion date in late 2014. InterHealth has agreed to act as a supply partner in the further development of this application.
Good fit for InterHealth
Paul Dijkstra, CEO of InterHealth, said 7-Keto's scientific underpinning made it a good fit for the company.
“7-Keto fits very nicely into InterHealth’s portfolio of science-based, branded, functional ingredients supported by robust clinical trial and safety data. It is sold to many of the industry’s most successful finished product brands and holds a strong position in the marketplace,” he said.
The acquisition fits a strategy outlined when InterHealth was acquired by private equity firm Kainos Capital in January. Kainos has a history of investment in the nutritional space and also has a habit of investing in companies with strong management teams and keeping those teams in place, Dijkstra said. The plan is to grow the InterHealth business via acquisitions and strategic partnerships.
“We will leverage the model that we have. We believe Interhealth has a very strong reputation as a science-based company. I believe that model is very scalable. It’s still a very fragmented market. You have a few companies that are huge—the DSMs, the BASFs—and then there is definitely room for a company in the middle with a turnover of something like $200 million, which is where we aspire to be,” Dijkstra said at the time of the Kainos acquisition in January.
Dijkstra said InterHealth has built a strong network of research partnerships which is one of the things that underpins its list of branded ingredients.
“We are really a research-based nutraceutical company,” Dijkstra said. “Because of the increase in regulation, you have to have research just to be in this market,” he said.